SC sets aside life ban on Sreesanth

SC sets aside life ban on Sreesanth

BCCI ordered to re-examine the quantum of sentence

The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the lifetime ban imposed on cricketer S Sreesanth on charges of spot-fixing during 2013 IPL but declined to interfere with the BCCI's disciplinary proceedings that indicted him under the anti-corruption code.

The top court directed the BCCI to re-examine the quantum of a sentence within a period of three months, saying the disciplinary committee had on September 13, 2009, passed its order without considering relevant factors like mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

“Cricket, it is said, is a synonym for gentlemanliness which means discipline, fairplay, modest and high standard of morality,” the court said, adding but the zero tolerance approach by the BCCI towards corruption cannot dilute consideration of relevant factors.

“The disciplinary committee is not obliged to award a lifetime ban in all cases where such offences are proved. When the range of ineligibility which is minimum five years, a maximum lifetime ban is provided for,” a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph said, in its 74-page judgement on a petition filed by Sreesanth against the Kerala High Court's verdict restoring life ban on him.

“Without considering the relevant factors, imposition of maximum punishment cannot be sustained. The subsequent conduct of the appellant also shows obedience to BCCI,” the bench added.

At the same time, the top court held that the conclusion drawn by the disciplinary committee on the basis of the material like audio recording of Sreesanth and Jiju Janardhan on receipt of Rs 10 lakh and conceding of 14 runs in one over during an IPL match cannot be said to be suffering from any infirmity which may warrant judicial review by the constitutional courts.

In his plea, Sreesanth claimed the principle of natural justice was not followed by the committee and he was not provided with audio recordings. He said his bright career has been cut short with the maximum punishment through the code itself stated it could range from five-year to life ban.

He also questioned formation of a committee by then BCCI President N Srinivasan after he had stepped down and Jagmohan Dalmia had taken over.

The BCCI counsel claimed he was given full opportunity and he failed to explain the charges satisfactorily.

The court said the appellant cannot question the formation of disciplinary committee as he did not raise it initially. Further, it said, “there was no legal impediment in Srinivasan participating in the disciplinary committee in the meeting of as President”.

As Sreesanth stood discharged from criminal case filed by Delhi police for which an appeal was pending, the bench said the upholding of the decision of the disciplinary committee would have no effect in the appeal.

“The conclusions and observations in the disciplinary proceedings under the anti-corruption code are entirely different from proof of criminal charges which are on a higher yardstick to prove,” the bench said.